My car was and is giving me troubles and neighbors would pass by and lend their opinions. One neighbor, Saul, had some knowledge and played with the plugs and choke but still couldn't solve the problem. We became friendly and turns our he was having some trouble with his wife who was becoming resentful and mean, but who also had some serious health issues. She also brought her brother into the fold who was hostile to Saul. Anyhow, I advised to take the high road, do what you have to as a husband, fulfill your duties, and just keep your own world going. Otherwise the battle in your head (rehashing conversations etc.) will eat you up.
He liked that and gave me some quality time on my car., although solutions were not forthcoming. Anyhow, Saul promised a lot of people his time so he moved on but during one of our discussions he proudly proclaimed he kept a checklist and enjoyed so much checking things off.
Then, I think Maria, another neighbor, because of her malady asked me to go with her to the supermarket. Being that my car was giving me trouble, it was a chore that could benefit both. During the drive she proudly proclaimed she kept a checklist of things to do. Hmmmm. Why am I hearing this over and over. She forgets a lot, is not that sharp these days, so I guess a checklist is really helpful. She just has to remember where it is.
I have a date book that gives a little room for a checklist. I bought it at a Hallmark store, thinking it would be special, but it cost more and had less space than the CVS variety. My lists extend to the margins. I find it does help to map out what has to be done. It's almost a survival tool. Things become less scary when they are just a number on a list. Plus you have to break down an entire issue to doable parts. So step one, call so and so, becomes just a call, not a whole campaign. It does provide some order to all the chaos. Plus it's democratic. Both brushing your teeth and paying your taxes get a number, no more nor less.
Of course the day takes on its own form and has to be organic. One thing leads to another and you sometimes have to go with it. The list, if you are very involved in a project, can seem superficial, a fearful attempt to control what is unknown. Often you have to be on a roll with one activity, and it can engulf you until you come out the other end, or just end up exhausted from effort. Still, I find some comfort in knowing, when all else fails, or even it things are just okay, I have my list to fall back on.